Over the past week, Santee Cooper’s proposed coal-burning power plant has generated a large amount of public opposition. On the day before the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) approved an air quality permit needed to build the $1.25 billion electric generation station, Governor Mark Sanford publicly opposed the construction of the proposed plant. The Governor gave political and economic reasons for his position, “As policymakers, in times of changing situations, we must be willing to change.”
Additional opposition came from John Frampton, the Director of South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). In a letter written to the Commissioner of DHEC, Frampton officially stated the position of DNR:
DNR is opposed to the permitting, construction and operation of this facility. This position is based on a careful and measured examination of the likely environmental impacts associated with the operation of a coal fired generation facility of this description. As Director of DNR I am obligated and proud to stand for the protection of natural resources. I also am required to speak for South Carolinians who depend on and enjoy natural resources to augment a quality of life. This quality of life is of paramount importance, and it must be preserved on our watch for the benefit of the people of South Carolina as well as for future generations.
Specific environmental threats associated with coal-fire power plants were cited in Frampton’s letter as reasons not to go ahead with the proposed facility (i.e. mercury contamination in fish and the risk of toxic coal ash spills).
Charleston Waterkeeper would like to applaud Governor Sanford, Mr. Frampton and the many groups and organizations who have publicly opposed all aspects of this proposal. As an organization dedicated to preserving and protecting Charleston’s waterways, and in turn the waterways of South Carolina, we too formally oppose all matters associated with Santee Cooper’s proposed coal-fire power plant. The presence of such a facility would threaten not only the health of our natural resources, but it would threaten our nation’s progress in our pursuit to discover and generate responsible, clean and alternative means of energy.